Off the green of Royal Portrush golf club, there is so much to see, do, and enjoy. These are our suggestions for the can’t-miss attractions in and around Portrush.  

Featuring three beaches with the coveted blue-flag designation, Portrush in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim is one of the most famous resort towns on the island of Ireland. Its name comes from the Irish Port Rois, which translates to “promontory port” – an apt indication of what an idyllic seaside town Portrush is.

An Aerial view of Portrush. Photo: Chris Hill

An Aerial view of Portrush. Photo: Chris Hill

Just over an hour’s drive from Belfast and also accessible via bus and train, Portrush is primely situated along the Causeway Coastal Route. Its population of just over 7,000 swells during the summer months as visitors from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and beyond flock to its shores.

Its world-famous golf club, Royal Portrush, is one of the biggest attractions. This summer,  the club hosted The 148th Open, which meant that some of the biggest names in golf and many thousands of golf fans were there too. 

Whether you’re in Portrush for a summer sojourn or curious about where to head when you’re not on the green, these are our top suggestions for what to do in and around Portrush.

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Publiée par sur Jeudi 8 août 2019

Explore the town

Portrush has everything you could want from a seaside town – charming shops, restaurants and pubs, arcades, and beachfront all around. Take a walk up Kerr Street for some lovely views of the sea and Portrush Harbor, making your way towards the top of the peninsula at Ramore Head. Explore the trails and cliff vistas before making your way back towards the town center via Main Street.

The White House, Portrush. Photo: Discover NI

The White House, Portrush. Photo: Discover NI

Portrush’s main commercial strip, Main Street offers shops, culinary experiences, galleries, and other diversions aplenty. Visitors from the US may especially get a kick out of The White House – not that White House but a department store that dates back to 1891.

Veer east just before Main Street splits into Causeway Street and Eglington Street and mosey over to The Arcadia, Portrush’s most iconic building. Once a famous local ballroom where showbands and visiting artists played, The Acadia is now a wedding and events venue. It also houses a café with creative, locally sourced dishes.

Dive on in, the water’s great!

Portrush boasts three beautiful beaches and all of them hold blue-flag designations, meaning they have been tested and approved for sustainability, safety, and quality. West Strand beach, also known as West Bay or Mill Strand, lines the western coast of Portrush’s peninsula from the harbor on south towards Portstewart. A stunning curve of shoreline, it is a popular swimming and sunbathing spot and also features a promenade for walkers and cyclists.

Curran Strand. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Curran Strand. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Head to the eastern coast of Portrush and you’ll find East Strand, also known as Curran Strand. Two and a half miles long, it stretches towards Royal Portrush golf club. East Strand is a great spot for swimming, surfing, and other water sports, and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Causeway headlands.

On the other side of Royal Portrush is Whiterocks Beach, which offers the rare pairing of dramatic scenery and good swimming waters. The white rocks in its name refer to the white limestone cliffs that run from East Strand to Dunluce Castle along the Causeway Coastal Route, forming a network of sea caves.

Whiterocks can be accessed by walking along the sand from East Strand or by car from Portrush. Surfers and bodyboarders flock here and an on-site surf equipment rental is open seasonally.

Have a day of fun and thrills

Whether you’re traveling with children or want to indulge your inner child a bit, Barry's Amusements is a must when in Portrush. Located above the West Strand, the amusement park has been in operation for over 90 years, making it an integral part of the local Portrush tapestry. With 15 attractions, including two rollercoasters and one water slide, there’s something for everyone – from the carousel on up to a ride called Extreme Orbiter.

Spend an evening in a cozy local pub

You’ll have a wealth of options when deciding where to spend an evening in Portrush. Plus, the town’s highly-rated pubs offer the ideal chance to spend some time getting to know the locals! For a classic Irish pub experience, head to Harbour Bar, one of the oldest pubs on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Expect expertly pulled pints of Guinness, a warm welcome from host Willie Gregg, and live music from local performers, including resident musician Ricky Lorimer. Add to the equation harbor views and a gin bar that operates Friday through Sunday, and you’ll begin to see what makes this such a special place.

The Harbour Bar. Photo: Jim Grey/Flickr

The Harbour Bar. Photo: Jim Grey/Flickr

The Quays also offers a cozy atmosphere and has a backyard where you can take advantage of the late summer sunsets. For a more intimate experience, try the family-run Springhill Bar, and for more live music, head to the Atlantic Bar, which hosts performances almost every night of the week.

Eat some fresh, delicious seafood

The chance to eat seafood this fresh and close to the source is rare, but Portrush luckily has an abundance of restaurants where you can avail of the opportunity. Ocho Tapas, opened by a Portrush local who spent 20 years living in Spain, includes daily specials and locally sourced ingredients on its menu.

A modern restaurant with breathtaking views, 55 Degrees North features local mussels and catch-of-the-day options. The Mermaid Kitchen and Bar, part of the Ramore complex that also houses Harbour Bar, offers fresh fish and local specialties, including seafood platters and a vast selection of grilled fish.

For an unforgettable dining experience, it’s worth taking a 10-minute drive to Harry’s Shack, which sits right on the beach in the neighboring town of Portstewart. Open since 2014, it has developed a devoted following, and with good reason. Serving up fish right from local fishing boats, Harry’s carefully constructed menu features dishes ranging from fish of the day cooked on the bone, to gourmet constructions, to the classic fish and chips.

Head out to sea

Eating all of this delicious seafood may leave you wanting to try your own hand at fishing! Causeway Boats offers a number of different boat tours for fishers, foodies, and adventurers alike.

Fishing boat trip along the Causeway Coast. Photo: Joshua McMichael/Tourism Ireland

Fishing boat trip along the Causeway Coast. Photo: Joshua McMichael/Tourism Ireland

One of the most popular tours takes visitors on an early-morning fishing trip where you catch your breakfast and then return to land to have it prepared and paired with local seasonal produce for an utterly unique meal.

Follow in the footsteps of giants

Giants Causeway. Photo: Getty Images

Giants Causeway. Photo: Getty Images

The first UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway truly must be seen to be believed. Tens of thousands of hexagonal basalt columns dot the Antrim coastline in a stunning array that has long been part of local lore. Legend attributes their existence to the mythical Irish hunter-warrior Finn McCool, though scientists have deduced that they were created by volcanic fissure eruptions between 50 and 60 million years ago.

Giants Causeway. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Giants Causeway. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Under a 20-minute drive from Portrush, the Giant’s Causeway offers 11 miles of hiking routes and the on-site Visitor Experience Center provides information, maps, tours, and an interactive exhibition. For an entirely different perspective of the Causeway, take a boat tour from Portrush and observe their majestic beauty from the water.

Embark on a cliff walk like none other

For another gorgeous view and a one-of-a-kind experience, head to the south-eastern end of the Causeway Coastal Route, to the Gobbins Cliff Path. Located on the Islandmagee peninsula, 20 miles from Belfast and about an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Portrush, the Gobbins Experience is an exhilarating journey along the narrow path that hugs the Gobbins Cliffs, over bridges that span the crashing waves of the Irish Sea, and into sea caves where pirates and smugglers once hid their treasure.

The path is accessible via a guided hard-hat tour that lasts between two and a half and three hours, with some steep climbs and descents and a look at local wildlife like Northern Ireland’s only inland puffin colony. A visitor center tells the story of The Gobbins’ rise as a tourist attraction in the early 1900s and its recent renovation to reclaim its glory.

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Proudly produced in partnership with Tourism Ireland. *Originally published in 2019, updated in 2024.